November 10, 2001
His unbridled passion for baseball is what separates him from other young, aspiring general managers. Whether he was raking the mound for the Lynn Mad Dogs (MA), handling group sales for the Danville Braves (VA), or dealing with corporate sponsors for the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs (NC), 23-year-old Jason Trask has been preparing himself for a career break when it finally presents itself.
“I’d love to be the owner/general manager for a major or minor league franchise,” he said. “You can’t argue with being paid to be in baseball all year round. But I love just being in baseball – youth baseball league commissioner, high school baseball coach, whatever.”
Trask’s introduction to the South Shore Baseball Club was in 1992, when he played in the Fall League for Frank Niles, Jr., minor league player Paul Rappoli and major league pitcher Ken Greer. He started attending the club in Hingham as a sophomore at Duxbury High, getting in extra batting and catching just about anybody throwing off the indoor mound. Later, he was a member of the second SSBC team that went on the Florida spring training trip, and he eventually became a councilor at SSBC camps and clinics.
“Jason was determined to make himself a better baseball player and he did,” Niles, now the SSBC president and director, offered. “It seemed like he was always there for extra batting practice. He worked hard catching young pitchers at our camps, clinics and lessons.”
The junior varsity catcher for his freshman and sophomore seasons at Duxbury High, Jason was on a mission to do much more than simply make the varsity squad as a junior. “I started going to the club to develop my skills and get in as much practice as possible,” he remembered. “I didn’t just want to make the varsity; I wanted to make an impact because Duxbury High wasn’t known for its baseball. SSBC also opened a lot of doors for me. I used to go over there just about every day after school. I hit whenever I wanted and used to be the catcher for almost every pitching lesson three nights a week, 3-9, and 10-6 on Saturdays. I caught everybody Steve Almonte or Vin Hillyer was teaching and worked on the skills I needed to develop. I also knew that I’d probably end-up facing some of those same pitchers. I remember catching guys like Mike Spinelli and Peter Fisher.
” I helped the coaches at other clinics and summer camps, too. I remember catching 10 and 11 year olds like Mark Rosen, Jesse Cole, and Michael Conroy, the tallest 11-year-old I’d ever seen. Last year, I went to watch a Danville Braves game, where I had worked one summer, and the starting centerfielder for the Burlington Indians was the same Michael Conroy.”
On the second-year Florida team, Trask caught and played with teammates such as Justin Lombardi, Jason Estano, Paul Gemelli, Matt Devine, Shawn O’Grady and Jamie Mandell.
“I gained a lot of confidence playing on the same field as those guys,” he noted. “I wanted to go to a good baseball school (college) and playing with and against talent at that higher level helped me. I made some good contacts at the SSBC, too. I worked one summer camp with Steve Agostino, who was a couple of years ahead of me. He played at New Hampshire College – now Southern New Hampshire University – and two years later when I was being recruited he called me. N.H. College was graduating its catcher and all it had was a transfer coming in. I walked on the campus as the #2 catcher, splitting time with the transfer, and we played good baseball in the New England Collegiate League. I also saw a lot of guys I had played with who were now playing at other schools – the South Shore Baseball Club connection was everywhere.”
Trask won the team’s 10th Player Award as a senior, batting .350 and moving over to first base in order to make room for some promising young catchers. He played summer ball for American Legion Post 223 in Duxbury, as well as a season for the Canton A’s in the Cranberry League. Jason’s playing career ended when he graduated from N.H. College with a degree in Sport Management, but he realized that early and prepared for a switch the summer after his junior year of college. He eagerly took an internship with the Lynn Mad Dogs of the independent Northern League, working for former Boston Red Sox star first baseman, George Scott, the Mad Dogs’ manager.
“It was a blast,” Jason recalled. “Now I was working on the business side of baseball, the front office, and I understood my playing days were going to end once I finished my collegiate career. I am passionate about baseball, something I attribute to the guys at the SSBC. “I learned as much off the field as I had known on the field. And working in the front office is like playing on the field. You have to minimize mistakes and make an effort so everybody leaving the park has a good memory.”
Upon graduation from N.H. College, Trask received a call from the general manager of the Richmond Braves, informing him that there was a situation with the Danville Braves that needed attention immediately. Only two months shy of opening day, Trask and five others worked hard to get the organization ready for business. Jason’s official title was Director of Group Sales & Stadium Operations. Not too shabby for an intern.
“I was running park security and trying to get groups to see players who had just graduated from high school,” he noted. This was 1997, but this was the same place Jermain Dye, Andruw Jones, John Rocker and many others had started their careers.”
The following season Trask was hired as assistant general managers of the Fayetteville Swamp Dogs, a college summer league team in the Coastal Plain League, voted the second best summer college league in the country. “It was like the Cape Cod League,” Jason remarked. “I handled everything from corporate sponsorships to promotions. We average 2000 paid a game.”
The life of most minor league employees, however, is seasonal and many like Trask keep updating their resume and searching for a full-time position in baseball. Jason nearly gave-up his dream and thought about taking the New Hampshire insurance exam. “I wasn’t really interested in selling insurance,” he concluded. “I loved playing baseball and now I love being around the game. I’d like to be paid year round working in baseball. Right now, I’m looking around and because I like interacting with fans, I’ve been thinking about a public relations position.
“It’s great to see a kid like Jason, who has always had an obvious love of baseball, stay in the game in another capacity,” Niles stated. “The dream may change somewhat, but it still comes down to hard work and determination and Jason is strong in those areas.”
Message for the new Boston Red Sox owners: If the general manager’s position opens up, Jason Trask has a resume he’d like to submit for consideration. At 23 with the passion Jason has for the game, it shouldn’t be long before he finally gets a break in the business side of professional baseball.